Wednesday December 13, 2017

Researchers identify two therapeutics that can treat MERS

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images New York: In a first, researchers have discovered  therapeutics that have successfully protected and treated  mice infected with the virus that causes the Middle East  Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

In the current MERS outbreak, around 180 people have  been infected by the deadly virus in South Korea, and  nearly 30 have died.

“Though early, this is very exciting and has real potential to  help MERS patients,” said lead researcher Matthew Frieman, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM).

The virus has killed more than 400 people since it was first discovered three years ago in Saudi Arabia.

In the study, the researchers found that two antibodies, REGN3051 and REGN3048, showed an ability to neutralize the virus.

“We hope that clinical study will progress on these two antibodies to see whether they can eventually be used to help humans infected with the virus,” Frieman pointed out.

This research, done in collaboration with Regeneron, a biopharmaceutical company based in Tarrytown, New York, used several of the company’s proprietary technologies to search for and validate effective antibodies targeting the virus.

MERS was first discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. It appears that the disease spread to humans from camels, who may themselves been infected by bats.

Research has shown that it is similar to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS); both are caused by Coronaviruses, both cause respiratory problems, and both are often fatal.

The paper also announced the development a novel strain of mice that can be infected with MERS.

“This new mouse model will significantly boost our ability to study potential treatments and help scientists to understand how the virus causes disease in people,” Frieman said.

The study appeared in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

(IANS)

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Nurse infected with MERS virus in South Korea

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A nurse in South Korea’s capital city tested positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus on Friday, authorities said.

The 24-year-old nurse at the Samsung Medical Centre here became the 184th patient as she contracted the virus while treating patients at an isolated hospital ward, Xinhua news agency quoted the health ministry as saying.

No new MERS cases were identified for three days till Wednesday, but a case each was added on Thursday and Friday. The toll due to the virus is 33.

Seven more patients were discharged from hospitals, taking the total number of discharge patients to 109.

The number of those quarantined decreased from 2,247 on Thursday to 2,076 on Friday. (IANS)

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Researchers find potential way to combat MERS virus

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New York: Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found molecules that shut down the activity of an enzyme essential to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus replication.

The virus is in the international spotlight again as South Korea faces the largest MERS outbreak outside the Middle East.

More than 2,800 people have been quarantined during the outbreak. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 27 deaths and 172 confirmed cases in its most recent update on June 22.

Professors Arun Ghosh and Andrew Mesecar from Purdue University in the US have been studying the virus and creating and testing molecular compounds that could lead to potential treatments since shortly after MERS was discovered.

“The team identified molecules that inhibit an enzyme essential to MERS virus replication and discovered a characteristic of the enzyme that is very different from other coronaviruses, the family of viruses to which MERS-CoV belongs,” Mesecar said. He added, “This enzyme is a prime target – an Achilles’ heel of the virus.”

The team was targeting an enzyme within the MERS virus called 3C-like protease, without which the virus cannot create more viruses to further an infection.

“We captured the protease’s atomic structure through this work, which provides the map to design potent new drugs to fight MERS,” said Mesecar.

The MERS virus emerged in 2012 and was mostly confined to the Middle East until 2014 when cases were identified in the US, Britain, France and Italy. Till date, 25 countries have reported cases, according to the WHO.

“It is a threat to public health and there currently is no treatment or vaccine. We continue to study the virus to improve our understanding of how it works and ways to prevent its spread.”

The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

(IANS)

 

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Two more die of MERS in South Korea

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Seoul: South Korea on Monday reported two more deaths and three more cases of infection due to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, taking the toll to 27 and the total number of people contaminated to 172.

Two elderly male patients, who were already suffering from cancer, died, raising the fatality rate to 15.7 percent.

Among the three new cases was the 171st patient, who tested positive 10 days after the incubation period of two weeks, Xinhua reported, citing the ministry of health and welfare.

The 60-year-old woman was infected after visiting an emergency room of the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul.

Seven patients were released from hospitals as they recovered after being infected, raising the total number of people discharged to 50.

The number of those quarantined slid from 4,035 on Sunday, to 3,833 on Monday, keeping with the downward trend noticed during the past four days. (IANS)

One response to “Two more die of MERS in South Korea”

  1. As of today, a total 181 confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been detected in South Korea and 1 case in China. First detected in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, it has spread to several countires. There is a need to maintain high level vigil at a global level.